the Quorum of the Seventy
January 26, 2000
Brothers and Sisters you have a fine president, but I'll tell you a little secret. Seated at his right is someone even superior to him. It's wonderful when we can set our sights so high like president Woodhouse did when he found his wonderful companion. It was a thrill just a week or so ago to see Sister Woodhouse in the Salt Lake Temple all dressed in white. Although we missed President Woodhouse because he was here with you, I knew that there was clear, divine need for her to be there and for him to be here.
I'm sure that in your experiences together as students, in the friendships which you have created and all that you're doing in your personal lives to be worthy of this experience which brings you all together today, you have to know that you are being directed just like they were being directed. The very things that bring us together today I don't exactly understand. I have no idea what you did in your personal life along the way that allows you to be here today and to be seated alongside such good friends. I don't even understand the personal sacrifices that each has made along the way to be here, but I do know something about friendship and I know something about divine guidance when we seek it.
Today we'll talk about lots of things. We'll talk about things that may in fact alter your behavior. It is always easy to say it is wonderful to be here with you. It's easy to say how much we enjoyed and felt the choir, and we did.
It is a pleasure just to think about not only our own individual paths but to think that at some point in time they'll even get better. As good as it is for you right here and as pleasant as this experience is, I promise you that it will even get better along the way. I also assure you that you are very important as individuals. You're not only important to your Heavenly Father and to our Savior Jesus Christ, but you're also very important to President and Sister Woodhouse. Not just Noah because he's the president, and not just you because you're here, but because the combination of all that surrounds us here helps us to be even seen with the brighter light if that's possible.
That's that wonderful synergy that happens in a college setting. It's the thing that says prepare well while you're here. It's the thing that says don't let anything that would be adverse to what you know brings you happiness get in your way and cause you any kind of a detour right now. That means that you must be wise and that you must be pure. You'll have experiences along the way where you may be tempted. You'll have things that will happen that you didn't plan on. I promise you that as you seek that vertical connection and you attempt to be your very best, that you will be in fact protected while you're here. The adversary is alive and cunning and with desire to let that door just open a little bit so that you might be quickly drawn in. Don't do it. Be so strong in your resolve to do what's right that all that you decide to do and continue to learn while you're here become the very things that keep you protected.
I'm grateful because, like many of you who come from the other side of the world in Asia, our youngest son Spencer-who speaks fluent Portuguese and Spanish, having lived six of his years in Latin America and loves the people of South America-was called to serve his mission in Bangkok, Thailand. Now that's how true it is; that's how it really works. I had a neighbor call me after he heard that and say, "You know it really is true. The process is right, isn't it?"
There's not a lot of connection. It was kind of like when we got a call to serve in a very difficult part of Latin America one time and somebody said to me just casually, "Don't you know anyone?" And I thought well, that's a shallow remark. There is so much good wherever we are.
He is loving Bangkok. When he started his first year at the university where he'd entered a year earlier than he should have (and I was a little concerned because he came back), I was mostly concerned about his normalcy because he'd been in Latin America so long and hadn't really had a social experience. A good social experience for him was teaching a fourth discussion with the missionaries. That's about as social as it ever got for him. So, here he was now cast from that environment into a university setting. I prepared for him a little summary of things that I thought would create balance. I read through those yesterday and thought you know, there's a lot more to it than that. I will give you these six very quickly, and then we're going to move to a much higher path.
I shared with him in written form a letter from his father in preparation for his mission. He hadn't received his call yet, but I wanted him to know how important certain things were. I think he is right now where you are. Some of you have returned from the mission field. Others are getting ready to go. Others have experienced right now in their lives the need for social integration. When he came back, although I was worried about it, I was grateful that he would blow that balloon up just a little bit for the first time in kind of a social way. As a result I wanted to give him a little warning as well. I talked to him about the spiritual side. You might, if you're taking notes, note these six points. Then I'd like you to fill in later talking with your friends and associates what they are. I'll tell you what I told him. I gave him about a page on each of these, but I'm going to give you just one or two lines to get you thinking about it.
On the spiritual side here is what I told him which I think was most significant. Take time now to outline your feelings about the Savior. He'd never done that before. Now he had feelings; I've already shared that he had shared experiences giving a discussion and all the things he was doing down there in different countries and loved that, but he never really outlined his feelings. I think that is something you need to do every once in a while.
I recently saw brother Finlinson and my mission president in the temple, and he had some notes in his hand. I said to him, "That's interesting that you'd make a note here in the temple." He said, "I'm repeating a process that I repeated literally hundreds of times in my life. I'm writing down today's feelings about the Savior."
Now, Brother Finlinson would know that that good brother is one of the Twelve today. That's how important it is that you do that.
I'm providing you a copy of The Living Christ. Take time to review that document. We'll talk about it just briefly here today; but go to a quiet, peaceful setting. I don't know where that is for you, but find a peaceful place where you can go and have a meaningful prayer each day. That's all I'm going to say about the spiritual dimension in this balance. I think right there you have the corpus of something that could be hugely expanded upon.
Academic balance was the number two item that I talked to him about. I think this is the essence: genuinely do your very best. You have to sort all that out with all the competition against your time and all the things you do. Don't allow a social or a work experience to conflict with your academic excellence-that is my counsel to you. Honestly evaluate your academic progress from time to time. Maybe for you that's weekly. Maybe it is quarterly; maybe it is the end of every semester. I don't know, but you decide. Then you'll be clearly spotting yourself along that track that's so important and allowing the balance of that spiritual piece that we've just talked about.
The third point would be social balance. Here is what I told Spencer: surround yourself with friends who have similar spiritual and academic ideals as you, and then you help each other. Probably the most significant thing every elder and sister learns in the mission field is that protective care. I'm grateful for Elder Finlinson. He was a fine example of how you keep yourself pure and keep your focus in the midst of the battle. That's what you need to do.
The fourth point would be financial balance. It's very important; it drives a lot of things. Unfortunately, it drives a lot of unhappiness in the world. As President Woodhouse has mentioned, I've spent a lot of years in South America where I've seen the highest end of financial success, and I've seen the depths of a favella [skid row]. I've observed that sometimes there is happiness in both and sometimes there is unhappiness in that environment. It doesn't seem to be clear that down in the depths of the slum, in a difficult, dangerous condition there would always be unhappiness; and over in the very wealthy, high success area as the world would measure it, there would be happiness. It doesn't work that way. It has a lot to do with how you control and order your life. Under financial balance what I suggested to him and I suggest to you, was to develop a personal budget and then live it. Keep it under control. Two words are probably sufficient-be wise. That's all you need to know to have financial impact-be positive in your life and not negative.
The fifth area of balance would be physical. Plan your day well enough to enjoy some form of physical exercise every day. Now, I try to do that. I got on a stairmaster this morning at 5:30 and I didn't want to. After I was on it, I cranked it up to eight and I was doing it tough. You've been on them; you know what it's like. The small of my back started to hurt, and I thought I have 50 reasons I don't want to be on this thing right now. But, it's the right thing to do.
Every day do a little something to keep yourself in good physical condition. You'll feel better and your mind will be better. Maybe five minutes, maybe fifteen, maybe some days it might need be half an hour. Don't overdo it-you can get caught up in that. Don't let any of this swing out of control. Keep that physical piece going slow and get adequate rest. Eat well and you'll be alert. Good things happen when you do that.
If you haven't seen those Marriott ads that talk about rest and a good rest, they're pretty funny and they kind of fit this physical piece. How important it is. You won't forget quite as much as some of those scenes show if you'll stay focused physically as well as mentally.
The last I would suggest, which I think is a very important balance for all of us (particularly easy to lose sight of in a student setting, individually, but I'll remind you that in a group setting it can happen) is service. It is a very important component of living the gospel. Here is the challenge-plan and carry out weekly some active service for someone in need. Now, that can be the most simple task or it can be complicated. I submit that the simplest ones are best. I also submit, however, that in the very planning of it you'll learn a great deal. Sometimes just in thinking about what you're going to do you've accomplished enough for yourself. That outward piece has to connect as well.
Let's go to the doctrine for just a minute and learn together. We're going to draw from five or six different scriptures that are important ones and ones that I love very much. They are scriptures that have allowed all of us to be here and to do better.
I take you to the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants for starters. There are three very important parts of this verse (verse 85) that I want to start with today. The first is "treasure up in your minds continually." Most of you know the verse; most of you have memorized it in fact. "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life" (D&C 84:85). Ok, it meant something to you. Treasure up in your mind.
The second component of that is the words of life. Now you're learning the words of life right here at the LDS Business College as well as any place I know on the entire planet. You've got examples around you; you're learning things that you will apply. You're knowing that as you treasure this up, that these words of life-be it a very stiff quantitative analysis class for business decisions or some form of humanities or language study-whatever it is, you're learning words of life that will bless you. Then as you treasure them up-which means you put them in your heart-then the promise: it shall be given you in the very hour, that portion, when you need it. Now that doesn't just relate to spiritual doctrine; remember that. It has huge application to academia.
Now let's go over to verse 81 on the very same page in that section. It says don't worry about snacks or what you're going to eat. It says, don't worry about whether you've got Ralph Lauren or JC Penney on your tag. Is that not what it says there in verse 81? "Take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink or wherewithal ye shall be clothed." You don't need to worry about that; you'll be just fine. The point is you level yourself based on performance and preparation to the point that you don't get hung up on worrying a lot about that. Don't worry right now about those kinds of things.
Now, looking at verse 83, it says to me your Father who is in heaven knows you, and he knows that you have need of all things. "For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things." He knows that it bothers you sometimes that you don't have something that you think you need. But what's really important is you're gaining that. All that you're doing here is in preparation. You can count on that. No wonder-he'll be there for you.
I hope I can get through this, I'm going to try my best. Our oldest son Scott is 28 years old and lives down in Provo where he is looked after by a wonderful couple. You see, Scott is mentally handicapped and physically handicapped to some degree. He is 6'6" and weighs 340 pounds, so he's a big man. He's 28 years old, has a heart as big as he is and is generally safe in most environments. People don't pick on him anymore. They used to a little bit because it was apparent that he was mentally handicapped.
We made an appointment with him to come up to Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago on the express bus. This was before Trax required you to get off in Sandy. He was coming in on this express bus and my wife said to Scott, "Now Scott, don't wander." He loves an environment like the Crossroads Mall where he can go in and talk to people that are nice to him. So we said, "Don't wander Scott; you get off right at the place." We set up a designated time. He was leaving Provo at 5 o'clock. At 6 o'clock he would arrive right across the street from the ZCMI Mall. You know where-the place right there on State Street. The bus would stop there just south of South Temple, and he was going to get off the bus at 6 o'clock sharp. Those buses are pretty good. You know within five or ten minutes when they generally arrive.
Well, we went down there precisely at the time. Recognizing that it might be hard for him to communicate as well to the bus driver, Scott had a little note with him that said I'd like to get off right there; and then defined it exactly where he was to get off. We went there 6 o'clock and he wasn't there. We got concerned because we asked the bus driver who would've been on that 5 o'clock route and he said, "No, I didn't see him. I do know him but I didn't see him today."
So we went down State Street and stopped four or five other buses that were express buses that came up from the University Mall in Provo, and he wasn't there. They hadn't seen him. We got concerned. Well, this is 6 o'clock in the evening. It's a cold night in Salt Lake and it was starting to snow just a little bit. My wife was starting to get a little concerned about it. We had people in Provo that we contacted and they had done a little search down there. He definitely got on a bus.
We got worried after we went back down State Street. About 3300 South, the bus driver said, "Listen why don't you go up to the Shilo Inn and there's someone there from UTA who can probably help you and give you some instruction. They can put an alert to the buses and they can maybe locate him if he's on one of them."
We did that. We went over there, and there was a very fine gentleman who got on the radio and put out a little alert describing Scott to the buses-to everyone who was on the air at that time. No response. Now, it's been almost three hours; it's about 9 o'clock in the evening and we're getting concerned. There are always the little things that trickle through your mind-you know, the kidnaping, the accident, all those things that can happen. Scott is usually very good; and besides that we said, "No Scott, don't wander. We'll be there for you." He knew we'd be there.
Well, after about 15 minutes of waiting outside the open window of the patrolman over at the Shilo Inn, a report came in on the radio from someone who said, "I remember that young man. I saw him; he was on my bus. When we got to the point where I was supposed to drop him off, there was a lot of traffic. You know that intersection that time of night how bad it can be I couldn't get over to where I could safely drop him off. So, I went up another block. Instead of making my normal left down South Temple and going west, I went up to North Temple, made the turn and dropped him off right there on Main Street and North Temple. I did that at five minutes to six."
Well, and not only did we hear that but the Salt Lake City police force is on that same radio frequency. They heard it. We said thanks very much and we blitzed right over to that spot where Scott was dropped off over three hours earlier. There he was-he had not moved a foot. He was standing almost at attention. He was cold; he had a short-sleeved shirt on. He had this little bag in his hand. I'll never forget, in my mind's eye ever, as I stopped illegally and saw this big figure of a man. My wife jumped out of the car and gave him a big hug. A guy behind me was honking because I was illegally parked. Just as she was hugging him, two police cars-without their sirens on but their lights were going-pulled in. It was Miami Vice. They crashed in on there just to make sure he was ok, and there she was hugging him. I thought well, there's a scene. Don't wander; he'll be there for you.
You wonder sometimes, you wonder hey is it all worth it? Have I gone too long? Have I done something wrong? Is there something I can do? Are they coming? Is it going to work. Is it? Endure; then you'll be blessed. It was a great example for us, and it helped me understand.
Go to the Book of Mormon for a minute. Leave your finger in the 84th section; we'll come back to that. Gentle King Benjamin, in verse 15 of chapter 5, I think it says it well: "I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works," and then the promise-this is a Christ-given promise-"that Christ...may seal you his" (Mosiah 6:15). Isn't that amazing? "That you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life" for being steadfast and immovable. It's a wonderful gift but you have to do your part. Don't wonder, don't wander either. Have faith and you'll be blessed.
Now back to the 84th section for a minute, over in verse 106-your responsibility. "If any man [or woman] among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak [her that is weak] that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also." We have some responsibility here to do that. You might be the strong one, you might be the weak one and frequently we're both. I'm very grateful personally that there are those friends around who continue to lift some who go through seemingly greater difficulties and moments.
Elder Finlinson and I have a companion who is quadriplegic-from the neck down has no sense of feeling-and a former member of the Quorum of the Seventy. A strange accident put him into that condition. I don't understand. I was with him the other day and had my hand on his head because that's really the only place he can feel, and I watched him try to lift his legs and his arms. Then I thought who is helping who here, you know what I mean? Not easy. Hard to understand, sometimes, but the beauty of it is that it ought to mean something to you.
That verse right there doesn't mean the Melchizedek Priesthood reaching out and lifting the Aaronic Priesthood only. It means a lot more than that to me, and that's why I share it with you. You are very important. It says it right there-look in verses 109 and 110 of that same 84th section. "Let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling.... The body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect."
That's exactly how it works. It's not just President Hinckley-it's President Hinckley with great counselors that lift him. I was in the temple meeting the other day. President Hinckley was giving a detailed little review of some small temples. He said one little detail that I happen to already know something about; very little of what he said I did, but that one I did. I observed his counselor on his left, his second counselor-President Faust. As President Hinckley was speaking and made a little mistake in a detail, no one corrected him except President Faust just put his hand gently up on the Prophet's hand, just like that. He didn't say one word and President Hinckley went right back to where he was and said it correctly. Now there's an example that I saw. I don't know how many others witnessed it in the room that day, but I did and I was impressed in the gentle treatment. You don't need to radically tell your friend that he's totally nuts, that he's off the track, that he's totally disassembled and probably never will make it back. You don't need to preach that kind of stuff. Just remember that a quiet, little hand on top of President Hinckley's was all that it took. Your friends know you; you know them. You know the pulse; protect each other and you'll be blessed for it.
You know Scott, who I shared with you never was able to serve a full-time mission but he wanted to? In five months he's going to be set apart as a full-time missionary. He's also going to go to the temple for the first time in preparation to go over and serve in Bangkok, Thailand. Now he doesn't speak one word of Thai. But I'll tell you what, he will teach the same way that you can teach a friend-just for the feeling and the sensitivity and by example. Hopefully, we're all helping each other in this process.
I brought a little prop today that I wanted to show you. This weights about 60 pounds. Actually, this is from Brazil. It was given to us in the Mission Training Center-what we call a CTM down in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I think it kind of represents our opportunities, our privileges here in life. It has the beautiful shape of a stone carver, chiseling out of a rough piece of stone a potential duplicate, probably even better than he thinks he is. There's a great lesson in that. Don't limit and you watched groups move into the session, you watched groups doing initiatory work and you watched these other things going on. It was done in reverence and peace. There I saw order; remember that. When you understand obedience and you've learned that, and you've learned service under covenant-just like it says there in verse 6 talking about obedience-you'll be better. Even with your victories along the way, be humble.
I was amazed that our son had difficulty at first learning the Thai language. He was the Sterling Scholar here in Utah for languages, a very gifted linguist. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese in the same breath. He can give you a Portuguese one minute without an accent and then he can go right over and speak in Spanish to somebody else. He had that ability, but he had trouble with Thai until he learned to depend on vertical help and then received it. Continue, be humble, and when you're humble you'll achieve greater victories.
The last piece which is shown in there in verse 13 is to be patient.
Well, I will leave you with this. One question (write this down) where do I go? Where do I go? We talked a little bit a minute ago about going to a quiet place to pray every day. We talked about the need to help others. We've talked a lot about all these little doctrinal pieces. Go to God; go to God and he'll bless you. He'll bless you in ways that you have no idea. Listen to the words of the Savior in closing in the 15th chapter of John-special language. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).
To me that's the essence of the living Christ. That document you have in your hand has thirteen paragraphs. Nine of those paragraphs have scriptural references; four do not. Focus on learning all scriptures in those nine and learn what it says in the other four, and you will be endowed with a gift that is beyond anything I could share with you. It's that good. In the 14th verse I close with, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). The Lord is our friend; he loves us. As a special witness I testify to you that he lives. I've not had a personal vision. I've had wonderful dreams like maybe some of you have. I have a companion gifted like President Woodhouse has. I married way above my head; you do that too. When that happens and you also recognize a need to connect, then the answer to "where do I go" is simple. I go where I receive the most help.
I testify that he will be there for you. Don't wander; you don't need to. He'll be there for you. Wait patiently, do your part and then you'll be blessed. I love you very much. I wish I knew each of you personally. Some of you I know. Some of you I even know your parents; some of you I know from other experiences. I only want you to know this-I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that he loves us. He wants the best for you in this academic environment, in your social world, in all the needs that you have. Reach out and serve others because in that process you'll be serving him of whom I humbly testify.